How Robert Guillaume Took the "Stench" Off His Most Famous Role

Season 5 Episode 513
Aired on 01/30/2016 | CC
When Robert Guillaume first received the script for ABC's series Soap, he wasn't happy with the character he was being asked to play: Benson, a butler who waited on a wealthy white family in the fictional town of Dunn's River, Connecticut.

Robert, who made his name in TV, film and Broadway, saw the role as a step backward. He had to take a hard look at the script before he started to see the redeeming qualities.

"When I got the role of Benson, I was not the happiest camper," Robert says. "I had reservations because you're serving food, you're serving a family and all that sort of thing, and it thrusts you back in time. It's as though nothing has changed since 1800. But then the more I examined the role and read the script, I figured out a way to take some of the stench off the idea."

In 1979, two years before Soap was canceled, the character got his own spin-off show, Benson, which lasted until 1986. Today, Robert is most remembered for playing the sarcastic butler.